Rapidan Institute

Can We Restore the Chesapeake Bay without Beaver?

I don’t think we can get very far with the Bay until we bring back substantial populations of the North American Beaver – and I know this is a crazy idea. And it may be impossible to much implement for lots of reasons. Nevertheless we could at least talk about it more. My beaver-fever is based on the years I’ve spent cleaning up hundreds of river miles in Virginia. It’s also based on learning about Dorothy Merritts work at F&M up in Lancaster. ACP Board of Directors created the Rapidan Institute to search for ways to use biodiversity to help enhance river resilience and ecosystem health. The North American Beaver is our poster child. Beavers were extirpated from North American in the 18th and 19th centuries. My guess is our streams and rivers began to go downhill shortly thereafter.

A few weeks ago we installed what we believe are the first Beaver Dam Analogs (BDAs) in Virginia at a site in Northern Virginia. We will be reporting on that project in this blog over the Winter. The point of this post is to give a high five to the Bay Journal folks for giving some love to our favorite mammal with a graduate degree in ecosystem engineering.